Sally Winton Bryan

Date of Birth

July 15th, 1920

Date of Death

October 25th, 2015

Memorial Meeting

University Friends Meeting


Sally Winton Bryan, who died on San Juan Island, Washington, on October 25, 2015, in her 95th year, was born in New Orleans on July 15, 1920, to Beatrice Stricker and David Knox Winton.  The family lived subsequently in Mississippi, Arkansas and Illinois before Sally left to attend Mt. Holyoke College.  Marrying James Bryan while he was studying engineering at Rennsselaer, she moved with him to his first position in Chattanooga.  Neither Sally nor Jim was happy in the South and he accepted a position with Boeing which brought them to Seattle in 1954.  There they investigated a number of churches before finding University Friends Meeting, which they joined as a family of six in 1955.

Sally quickly became a most cherished member of that meeting, which she attended regularly for the next twenty years, serving as Clerk for five of them.

Both Sally and Jim decided that what they really wanted to do with their lives was to become teachers.  While Jim, with his Boeing position, supported the family, Sally pursued qualifications.  Once she had a paid position, Jim followed suit.  He then taught Engineering at a Community College while Sally, having begun at West Seattle High School, soon moved to Roosevelt High School where she was an immensely popular teacher of English, World Philosophy and Lab Writing.

At the height of this career, Sally made a principled decision to retire early.  Seattle schools undergoing yet another financial crisis, she felt it more important to retain good younger teachers with careers ahead of them than to fire them in favor of older teachers with fewer remaining years to serve.

The Bryans gave up their Seattle home in 1975 and moved to what had been a vacation cabin on San Juan Island where they lived for the rest of their lives in what became a kind of family compound.  Right into her final years, Sally was intimately involved in the daily care of grandchildren and, more recently, great-grandchildren.  Family was of central importance to her.

Sally’s removal from Seattle meant that many current members of Meeting have no memory of her whatever.  She retained her membership and became a key founder of the San Juan Worship Group, but she was no longer the central UFM presence she had been. Those of us who shared the time she was here remember clearly what she meant to us, her deeply relevant speakings in Meeting for Worship, her sensitive practicality in Meeting for Business, her ability always to quote a poem (frequently Eliot or Auden) relevant to whatever issue.    

Sally never stopped seeking and learning, reading constantly and widely with particular attention to poetry, which she also wrote, and, in her late years, pursuing all she could learn of research on brain functioning.

She was preceded in death by her oldest daughter, Barbara, and, in 1993, by Jim.  She is survived by three living children, eight grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren.